5-minute Feedback: a constructive pop-up event

by Tess McCabe

There are many, many University and TAFE design courses in a number of disciplines on offer in this city, and for that reason I was surprised at the small turnout to the DIAs 5-minute-feedback session at BMW Edge on Friday. Considering it’s July, theoretically there should be a plethora of students winding up their degrees and preparing their folios for the few entry-level graduate positions that will be on offer early in the new year. To have someone in your prospective design industry review your portfolio of student work and offer suggestions and improvements, at a time when you can implement those suggestions before getting serious about landing a job, seems like an opportunity too good to pass up.

Speaking to some of the students who did take part in the feedback sessions, their dedication to becoming better designers and their awareness of the competition within their industries for employment opportunities was clear. They also seemed to display a healthy respect for those with experience in the industry and welcomed constructive criticism from practitioners in other design strains.

When I spoke to some of the professional designers, the consensus was that they were always on the lookout for fresh new talent, and that they were ready and willing to offer those present encouragement, and constructive criticism, on student work and portfolio presentation styles. Monique McNamara from Up and Up Creative was keen to offer information as to how young designers could combine sustainability practices into their career. Many, such as Shaynna Blaze-Vaughan of Blank Canvas Interiors, were happy to engage students in discussion about what to expect as an entry-level designer within an established studio.

For more information on upcoming DIA events aimed at both students and professionals, visit their website.


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One Pair of Legs.

by Una Cruickshank

One Pair of Legs, by Sue Buchanan and Eli Giannini, is a “modern fable” told in graphic form. In keeping with their interest in what they call “urban hardware”, the story is conveyed in the form of a series of modified road signs positioned along the Riverside Walk behind Federation Square.

The text of the fable goes as follows:

One day one pair of legs – let’s call them Jane – got out of the car, started walking and:

-Smelled the roses and fresh air.

-Began talking and walking.

-Showed off her new shoes.

-Played kick-to-kick in the park.

-Found new frontiers.

-Left road rage behind.

-Relaxed and slowed down.

…and others followed…everyone was walking…and soon there were more pedestrians than car users…and the world was a better place…although tragically, one rogue car – one of the few unbelievers – ran Jane down, so she was then beatified and became St Jane the Patron Saint of Walkers.

Nearby, in the Federation Square carpark, the duo’s other festival submission, w.(web) , glistens in a rather sinister manner…

One Pair of Legs,

Riverside Walk, Federation Square.

July 17-27.

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Selected Projeckta

Pete from Really Whale and Sixto from Do Yeah create art for Bamakkos storefront window in real time.

Vida Lay and the chest of drawers that almost never was

From a broken couple of these to this attractive magazine stand… that’s Ebay on the Freeway at Design Loop.

Projeckta continues with more artists in-store this Saturday 26th July (tomorrow!), 11-4pm, at the five Projeckta 57 locations.

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Living Eames

The Gifted Eye of Charles Eames is on at Living Edge, 345 Bridge Road, Richmond, now!

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Melbourne Design Market

by Lucy Feagins

Melbourne Design Market last Saturday – busy busy!

The Melbourne Design Market has gotta be one of the most popular events on the Design Festival calender. Saturday was the big day – and although I was there early, the crowds were incredible! The atmosphere was frantic, chaotic, friendly and fun – it was really encouraging to see just how supportive Melburnians are of local design talent. I think we can all learn a lesson here – if you want to get a good turnout for a design event in Melbourne, just make sure you’re offering something people can buy when they get there!

There were so many fantastic stalls, it’s hard to narrow it down… some of my favourites below:

Stunning ceramics by Gretchen Hillhouse

Zakkaya – always gorgeous homewares, gifts and kids stuff
furniture restoration in progress at Great Dane
Spacecraft – beautiful prints as always

Design House Stockholm – Scandinavian design at its best. Great ceramics and what about those bicycle baskets! I love them. If you missed the market, catch the new Design House Stockholm range in Melbourne and Sydney at R.G Madden.

Third Drawer Down showed their collection of limited edition screenprinted tea towels. Lots of familiar designs but a few newies too. They were frantically stretching their prints over canvas frames on the spot for customers… it looked a little stressful 🙂

Forgive the slightly blurry pic here – Chook Leaf showed their range of gorgeous hand-made leather kids shoes – Camper-esque but even cuter (for real). I wasn’t the only customer wishing they had adult sizes…. I spied one lady desperately trying to squeeze into the largest kids size… hee hee.

Basic Shapes showed some lovely illustrated kids wall charts… the graphics remind me a little of Charley Harper‘s stunning geometric animal illustrations. (Better shots on the Basic Shapes website). Dan Honey and partner Paul Fuog are behind this little Melbourne company… Ms. Honey lives up to her name – she looked super-sweet from head to toe (managed to get her perfect silver shoes in frame – check ’em out!), and Mr Fuog realised when I introduced myself that I had previously interviewed him for The Design Files – he and Dan are also known as 2 thirds of The Co-Op (super cool graphic design firm based in Curtin House). Small small world!

Another designer I stumbled across at the market after profiling her on my site a little while ago was the lovely Danielle Sanders of knitwear label Ellka. I couldn’t resist buying one of her beautiful knitted hot water bottle covers… (the grey one on the left there!) Stunning work.

Fable Designs shared a busy stall with kooky accessories by Limedrop and lighting design by Lists and Diagrams. I love the rooftop silhouette wall lamp by Piers Morgan (aka Lists and Diagrams)… also I bought one of Fable’s lovely printed tote bags…

Victoria Mason is another Design Files interviewee I met for the first time at the market…! (Thanks to Pip from Meet me at Mikes for the introduction!) Victoria’s beautiful stand was super popular… I could barely get a photograph! I also loved her packaging on display here (bottom image).

ps) must apologise for the shots! Dimly-lit carpark + bustling crowds = blurry photos and sketchy details! Oh well. All the labels featured here have great product shots on their websites, so please do follow the links…

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Patrick Blanc

by Lucy Feagins

Patrick Blanc’s vertical garden at Melbourne Central, installed last Thursday (July 17th) as part of the Melbourne International Design Festival

Patrick Blanc charmed a capacity crowd at BMW Edge last Friday evening, giving a detailed lecture about his famous vertical gardens as part of the International Design Festival. His lilting French accent and endearing pronounciations of English words (‘monthses’ = months), only added to the highly entertaining lecture… and while it did go on too long for some (around 2 hours), I was completely taken with the charming, eccentric Mr. Blanc.

Blanc attributed the enormous popularity of his work to the fact that more than half the world’s population now live in densely populated cities, and have less and less contact with nature than ever before. vertical gardens bring the natural world into the urban environment, and it seems everyone wants a piece of the action. Patrick Blanc has created his amazing installations all over the world – from hotels in st Tropez and the Qantas first class lounges (installations for ‘happy few people’ Blanc said, referring jokingly to the elite few who frequent such places), to the French Embassy in Delhi, art galleries in Japan, and even a collaboration with fashion designer Jean Paul Gaultier. ‘This work is funny…’ Blanc said, showing an image of a fashion model wearing a botanical creation – ‘the guy is not so funny’ – referring to Mr Gaultier!

Mr Blanc was quick to (tactfully) dismiss misconceptions about his work. ‘I don’t like (ordinary) gardens at all’ he said! He made it clear he’s not a landscape architect or a gardener… and certainly not a designer (although he acknowledges the great interest in his work from the contemporary art and design worlds). He explained that first and foremost he’s a botanist, and he approaches his work from a scientific perspective rather than an aesthetic one. He explained the architectural arrangement of his installations – designed to allow each plant to catch the maximum amount of light (taking into account shade tolerance, leaf shape and arrangement etc). He doesn’t see himself as a designer ; ‘the artistic work is not my work’ he says, ‘this is the work of nature… nature organises itself perfectly’.

We learnt that a vertical garden, once installed, requires minimal upkeep, and is more self sufficient than a normal, ‘horizontal’ garden. There is no loss of water – all water drained at the bottom of the watering system is re-used, and no soil means no percolation, therefore no wastage. Where his gardens are placed in large interior spaces (such as his installation at Melbourne Central), water is recycled from the air conditioning system of the building to water the plants.

It’s clear that the secret to Mr Blanc’s success is the sheer passion he has for his work, and for the study of plants. He described visiting Singapore three days prior to his Melbourne visit, and discovering a new plant species while he was there. His excitement at this recent discovery was self-evident! ‘Just because lots of people go in a place, doesn’t mean there is nothing new to observe’ he said… ‘there’s always something new to observe in nature’.

Patrick Blanc didn’t get through all the images he had planned to show during his lecture, so below are the additional photos, including shots of some of his most recent works.

‘Green Symphony’ installation in Taiwan
Begonia masoniana
Ludisia Discolor from the orchid family
Caixa Forum in Madrid
installation in Seoul, Korea
interior installation in a private residence
Rhipsalis houlletian
Visit Patrick Blanc’s permanent vertical garden installation at Melbourne Central, next to the shot tower in the central atrium.

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Max GRR! Reinterprets Kid’s Classic.

By Una Cruickshank.

Maurice Sendak’s children’s classic Where the Wild Things Are has enjoyed a resurgence in popularity in recent years. As the children of the original fans come of age (amazingly, the book has been in print since 1963), there has been a spate of tributes in such unlikely media as ballet, landscape design and tattooing. A live-action film directed by Spike Jonze is due for release in 2009, and already has movie fans in a frenzy. So the time was ripe for Ben Edwards, Fiona Bryant, Rob McCreedy and choreographer Kate Stanley to collaborate on their own interpretation of the much-loved story – one with a distinct Melbourne twist.

Max GRR!, a performance inspired by Max’s adventures, will be held in the Centreplace Laneway on the evenings of July 23rd and 24th. Audience members will line the laneway on both sides; the performance can alternatively be viewed from Hell’s Kitchen, the bar overlooking the laneway.

Bryant, who plays Max, has adapted an existing dance piece from the stage to the long, narrow confines of the laneway, while McCreedy, a recent addition to the ensemble, represents the monsters. Edwards, an architect with Melbourne firm 1:1, has created a set designed to exploit the dark, eerie aesthetic of the laneway to the full.

They’re not giving away much more than that – details of the sets and costumes are being kept under wraps until the first night. What is clear is that Max GRR! will not adhere strictly to the original story – Edwards promises a darker, more abstract interpretation of the themes in the book, designed with a grownup audience in mind.

Admission to Max GRR! is free, but bookings are essential; email max@theintervention.net or visit www.theintervention.net/maxgrr

Max GRR!

Wednesday 23rd -Thursday 24th July, 8pm

Centreplace Laneway

Admission Free.

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